South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

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The nature and determinants of opinion leadership in Lesotho

RF Williams, GH Düvel


This research investigates the nature, the occurrence and the factors influencing opinion leadership in Lesotho. The focus is on a typical rural district where 200 maize farmers were randomly selected and their opinion leaders identified by means of sociometric methods with the number of nominations as the major indicator of degree of influence or strength of opinion leadership. The findings confirm the importance of opinion leadership, which is primarily influenced by age, marital status and gender, but also questions the value or quality of influence from a production efficiency point of view because opinion leaders have a lower level of formal education, make less use of the printed media, are not more efficient than their followers and tend to be very polymorphous in nature. The proper use of opinion leaders poses many challenges, but very favourable is that psychological accessibility is no constraint. Unfortunately the opposite is the case as far as distance or physical accessibility is concerned.

Keywords: opinion leadership, importance, formal education, strength, influence, production efficiency

South African Journal of Agricultural Extension Vol. 34(2) 2005: 260-274

AJOL African Journals Online